My younger step-siblings had it easy once our father made seriouis money, for then my mother decided we needed a live in housekeeper, one who could cook, clean and take care of all those things domestic.
So my siblings had only to put their dishes near the sink, their laundry down the chute, and keep their rooms marginally tidy.
I had missed most of that when I was their age and father kept us afloat with nothing to spare, so I knew how to wash dishes, how to run a load of laundry, skills that served me well when Uncle Sam gave me KP duty, and waist deep in dishes and pots I imagined how my siblings might fare in that situation for I needed a good laugh then.
This morning, I am certain the earth pulled me down more strongly, as though gravity needed to reassert itself, having lost someone in its grip to the virus, a common complaint as we stumble through still another year.
I fought it off course, the birds in the wetland at once admiring my effort and laughing at what they knew would ultimately be a futile gesture.
You belong to the earth, they said, you arose from it, are bound to it and it is a matter of time before it reclaims you as it does with all.
It was easier, they added, in ancient days, when the gods truly cared, for then you need only sufficiently irritate them before they would sever your earthy bonds to serve eternity in a celestial prison.
Step right up, don’t hang back, come and watch the fool perform for you. You know me, bedecked in motley emotions worn like so many colorful rags, a suit of too many shades and hues, all displayed for your entertainment. See if you can find ten shades of anger as I prance around in front of you. Count the five flavors of tears that start and stop like a passing storm. Laugh at me as I pirouette, a dervish who loved blindly long after the love of my patron had died. See me in my fool’s cap, the bells of rage and guilt dangling from its points. If that isn’t enough to bring out a laugh, watch as I rip out my heart and lay it at your feet, still beating to the rhythm of the song to which she grew deaf so long ago. Rain your scorn on me as I stumble across the stage, for though they ring hollow, it is them that I most crave, a redemption that no monarch could hope to offer. Step right up, don’t hang back, come and watch the fool perform for you and do not pause to think that you could as easily be here, on this stage, and I out there marveling at you, wondering what you did to ever deserve such a fate.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)
Today in odd places, at the most unexpected moments, a child will smile without reason, a young girl will laugh, the young boy will stroke the neck of a wandering cat, and in that place at that moment there will be a simple peace. Only the children will notice this, though it gives lie to those who deem peace impossible. A child knows that it is only preconceptions and attachments that blind adults to the peace that surrounds them.
He says he cannot believe in angels because he has never seen one. I do not believe in his sort of angels, but not for lack of visual confirmation, rather that I live in a world that now is so deeply in need, that an angel might be our last, best hope, but the scope of angelic miracles is not likely wide enough to encompass the utter disaster which we have created.
I tell him that I do believe in angels, that I have met several in my life, and scowl when he laughs so that he must consider that I am serious, and then he asks what an angel looks like, so he will recognize one when and if he ever sees one.
I advise him that you don’t have to search all that hard, that you merely need to be aware, and watch the face of the baby when you stop and coo at him or her as they lie in their stroller, staring up at the always welcoming sky.